Could Heavier Trucks Soon be Allowed on Florida Interstates?

Sep 16, 2011 Posted by in Motor Vehicle Accidents and Safety

In mid January, a pickup truck and a tanker truck collided resulting in a tragic, fiery Florida crash. The Brevard County, Florida accident left both drivers dead and destroyed the SR 528 overpass. The tanker, which was carrying 2,000 gallons of fuel, exploded, sending flames over 30 feet into the air. Nearly two weeks later, traffic was still being diverted while repairs were being made.

Although this is just one example of the devastation that can result from an accident involving a tractor-trailer or large truck, the impact is clear. Regardless of the cause of the accident, an 80,000-pound truck traveling at highway speeds can cause serious injuries and costly damage upon impact.

The increasing number of commercial vehicles on Florida highways has led to an increase in accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. In 2009, there were more than 3,000 crashes involving heavy trucks in Florida, including 1,661 injury accidents and 56 fatal accidents, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Some of the most dangerous and devastating truck accidents that occur on our roads and highways each year involve accidents between trucks and cars.

Up until last year, the mandated weight limit for commercial trucks on Florida highways was 80,000 pounds. However, in 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law an increase to 88,000 pounds on specific, non-interstate routes. The law took effect on July 1, 2010.

According to Truckinginfo.com, supporters of the law, including the Florida Trucking Association and the American Trucking Association, say this will align Florida with neighboring state laws, allowing commercial companies to be more productive and making the state more attractive to business. Other supporters say trucking companies will ultimately save fuel, make fewer trips and reduce greenhouse emissions.

Safety advocates oppose the increased weight limit. In a press release in June 2010, Road Safe America urged Crist to veto the bill saying “the 10% increase in total weight without requiring any additional axles or brakes for control or stopping power will cause more wrecks as the heavier trucks take longer to stop and are harder to maneuver in an emergency.”

According to Tom Guilmet, Executive Director of the Florida Safety Council, increasing the weight of tractor-trailer trucks are very known: they are more difficult to steer, stop, and are much more vulnerable to rollovers. By far, however, the most convincing objection to heavier trucks is that they cause more injuries and deaths on highways.

Currently, federal law limits truck weight to 80,000 pounds. Heavier trucks must lighten their load or use secondary roads to get through states with higher weight limits. To date, 27 states have successfully sought exemptions from Congress to increase their state’s highway weight limits.

H.R. 763, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2011, was introduced in the House of Representatives and was recently handed over to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The bill proposes an increase in the limit of big rigs from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds on federal interstates. If the law passes, states would have to allow trucks of that weight on their highways. Safety advocates are fighting this proposal.
The Florida tractor-trailer accident lawyers at Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, have seen the tragic consequences a tractor-trailer wreck can have on a family. We hope that the elected officials in Florida and Washington consider the devastation that a truck hauling another 20,000 pounds could have on Florida drivers if involved in a car accident.

Contact a Florida Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

Our Florida truck wreck lawyers have more than three decades of experience with vehicle accident claims, including those involving tractor-trailers or semi trucks. We represent truck accident victims in Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Stuart, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Vero Beach and Palm Beach and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Call 1-800-299-8878 to speak with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.

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